As walking into any major retail store will tell you, it is common practice to dive right into the holiday season as soon as Halloween passes. While skeletons and ghosts are swiftly removed in favor of Christmas trees, holiday lights, and advent calendars, so many people forget how wonderful Thanksgiving can be (and honestly, I can't see how so many aren't tangibly excited for mountains of mashed potatoes and gloriously roasted turkey). However, for the winos here at Seal Beach Winery, Thanksgiving holds more in store than just delicious food--the perfect wine pairings for all those traditional Thanksgiving favorites.
The Meat and Potatoes
The most staple traditions of Thanksgiving are, of course, turkey and mashed potatoes, all smothered in savory gravy. As such, many people seeking to pair wine with their Thanksgiving feasts look towards finding a perfect match for these hearty mainstays. Reds that are lower in tannins and high in bright, fruit flavors do create an excellent contrast to these intense and savory dishes. And as the wine club members at Seal Beach Winery know, we offer a variety of wines that fit this critera almost exactly, such as either of the Pinot Noirs or Grenaches, the Barbera, or the Zinfandel. Each of these wines have a bold fruit flavor and a smooth finish to round out the heartiness of the centerpieces of any traditiional Thanksgiving feast.
The "Healthy" Stuff
Next to every off-brown component of the Thanksgiving dinner (think turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy..), there is something bright and green. Whether that be something along the lines of fresh, seasoned green beans or wilted spinach is up to each household chef. However, what is certain is that these greens offer a fresh relief from the heartiness of the rest of the meal. When conceptualizing what the ideal pairing for these light vegetables should be, the wine should be thought about in the same way. Crisp, cold wines, like our Old Vine Chardonnay or either of our Rosés, will amplify the lightness of these vegetables and round out the meal.
For me, the very best part of Thanksgiving is the copious amount of sweet potatoes I can eat without judgment. While I smother mine with marshmallows and candied pecans, many people opt for something lighter, like roasted butternut squash, glazed carrots, or even homemade cornbread (or any combination of those, really). Dishes like these will pair well with a variety of wines depending on what your intention is--a dry, tannic wine like our 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon or 2012 Syrah will tone down the sugar content and leave the dish feeling more rich, whereas a sweeter, cold wine like our Chardonnays of Rosés, will amplify the sweetness.
An Admirable Compromise
While each element of a Thanksgiving dinner has wines that pair perfectly alongside it, many of us don't feel like interchanging sips from several glasses in front of us while we feast. As a host, it's always good to offer up a selection of wines, such as a few from each section above. However, as a mere drinker, it's helpful to know what wines pair nicely with just about anything you could encounter at the dinner table. If you prefer to stick to one wine for the entire dinner--or only want one glass--a Pinot Noir or Chardonnay is the way to go. These are some of the most amenable wines to pair with Thanksgiving food.
Another fantastic wine for pairing with all of these delicious Thanksgiving options is our brand new Sangiovese, which will be debuting right before the holiday. Its intense notes of black fruit will complement moist turkey breast and darker thighs alike. Moreover, with its acidity balanced by a smooth, cherry finish, this Sangiovese will work alongside any sweet sides or tender vegetables while still being bold enough to stand up to hearty potatoes and gravy. Look out for the release of this wine, and consider taking a 1.5 liter growler bag along to any family party.
Everyone knows that Halloween is the best holiday, right? If you've been to the tasting room within the last month or so, you've surely noticed that rapid accumulation of Halloween decorations and paraphernalia. There's a skeleton that lords over our wine display, witches and mummies that adorn our bottles, and a telephone at the corner of the bar that rings shrilly and belts out ghostly taunts. With all these delightfully haunting decorations about, we can only assume that the winery is visited by the supernatural when the doors are locked and our club members are tucked away at home. And if they do, they must surely be sipping on some of our wines.
If I had to guess the palates of the undead, I would say that ghosts and spirits are the easiest to determine. The ethereal remnants of winos would certainly go for our Roussanne. While our Roussanne is a white wine, it lacks the typical crisp that finishes off most other whites. The murky edges that remain on your palate after a sip are evocative of ghostly forms that trail off and wisp by. Moreover, the full-bodied characteristics of this particular wine appeal to ghosts, who undoubtedly would trade their intangible forms for something more supple and round.
Skeletons would for sure take a different approach to their wine drinking, looking for something "bone-dry." I envision them nursing a glass of Syrah while clattering their bones in rhythmic percussion against the bar. The high tannins in this wine certainly couldn't make their mouth any more dry.
The vampires that visit the tasting room would surely feast upon a tall glass of Zinfandel, a wine filled with not only popping fruit flavors but also hints of cedar, which surely makes them feel at home, nuzzled tightly into their coffins. The richness of this wine, while indubitably not a perfect match, would act like a substitute for human blood.
A coven of witches would definitely lounge in the back room of the winery, sharing a growler of Rose of Grenache. Not only is this particular wine served in a tall, potion-like bottle, but its notes of summertime strawberry and watermelon would also serve as a vibrant contrast to the typical witches' brews. I would imagine that newt's eyes and nightshade wouldn't make for a very delectable wine.
And finally, zombies would ramble into the tasting room in an awkward horde, lunging for growler bags of Barbera to sink their teeth into and chug down. I assume that the culinary world doesn't call brains "sweetbreads" for no reason at all. Since our Barbera is filled with the most residual sugar of all of our wines, I would imagine that zombies would have a fondness for its taste.
So then, in the spirit of Halloween, stop by the winery and have a glass of wine among the company of our undead friends. You can even bring some home with you, and imagine them enjoying the wines in your house, hiding behind closed closet doors or crawling under your bed.